Service – 4
Restaurants are having customers handle their own service more and more these days. To order drinks or food, you order at the bar which eliminates a host (possibly a bitchy host). Water jugs are at the table which eliminates being neglected when thirsty. You might think that takes out most of the service but you’re wrong.
At Smokehouse, my server was such a gem. When you order at the counter, you get a receipt with a number. Once your food/drink is ready, they call that number and bring everything to you. YAS honey, you still get served like a queen should! My server checked in on us a few times to either ensure we got everything or to see what else was missing. Today was H E C T I C and I truly felt bad for him but a good server is when it’s crazy stressful, and you can’t see it on their face. They keep their composure as a professional should. My server definitely was running around but once at the table, he was soft spoken and slowed down.
Although you’re suppose to order a the counter, my server would get us more drinks so we didn’t have to wait in line. He picked up dishes we were finished with, and checked back every so often. He was honestly such a sweetheart. A downside, since it was so busy, he was occupied so when we needed more napkins, we did have to wait awhile. He definitely redeemed himself when we asked for the check for our one extra drink and he said it was on the house. I’m not sure if he knew who we were ( foodies) or thought we were some sexy ladies. I’d like to think the latter because “HAAYYYY”.
Ambiance – 3.75
Smokehouse is located off Belmont next to Nostrana. The plaza has a parking lot which is hard to find anywhere in Portland but don’t let that fool you. Parking is still a bitch and it took me about 10 minutes to find parking. The location is always key, being in SE off 14th and Morrison, it’s great for East-siders to get to, and not too far from downtown.
Being a “smokehouse” you best believe the decorum gives you that Texas feel. Picture – wood, taxidermy/animal heads mixed with chic mirrors and red/ gold wallpaper. Half of the restaurant is the bar which I’m not mad at, but it leaves less room for seating. There are seats along the bar but I guess alcohol wins over tables. The space isn’t tiny but it is on the smaller side. I do love the ambiance, the decorum is cute and it always smells amazing from the open kitchen in the back. Downside, there’s only one bathroom and there’s nothing I hate more than having to WAIT to pee.
Wait – 4.25
The wait was probably the worst part but I will take into consideration that these Chef’s were doing pretty much everything themselves. You can always see it as your tacos are always made to order. Who doesn’t love a FRESH taco, am I right? Luckily, my friends got us a table or else I would have been fucked waiting for one.
The line for the food went pretty quick. I waiting about 10 minutes and was at the entrance door when I started. I mean, this is a Taco Tuesday special and if you don’t know what you want, you don’t deserve to eat a damn Taco. Waiting for drinks or appetizers was more of a 5-10 minute wait but waiting for the food… Let me just clarify I got 2 tacos, one fried chicken and one al pastor. It took like 20 minutes to get my tacos. If I didn’t get chips and guacamole, I would have been so hangry. This is their first “Taco Tuesday” so I am hoping they’ll work out the kinks.
Food – 4
Down to the most important section. I bet you want to know how tacos taste when made by Top Chefs. Let me start with the first Chef. Doug Adams made a fried chicken and a beef cheek taco in which I tried both. This mother fucker can make fried chicken. The chicken was delicious and crispy, the sauce it was paired with was light and not too overpowering. This was my favorite of the night and my table agreed. The beef cheek was soft and had a nice queso sauce drizzled on top. This taco was on the heavy side not solely because of the queso sauce but it was loaded and rich with meat. I find a lot of the meats of the night were on the sweeter side like barbecue which I am not a fan of. You’re probably thinking, “why don’t you like barbecue and why are you eating food by Chefs from Texas where barbecue is their staple?” Well, fuck you, because I can.
BJ Smith is the Chef and owner of Smokehouse Tavern and his two tacos were squash mole and smoked al pastor. I have to say, the mole with the peanut salsa was good. I mean, I don’t eat a ton of meat so I could eat a few of these tacos and be content with life. You don’t see a lot of mole IN a taco so I like how different it was. Mole is pretty rich but having it with squash made the taco a little lighter. As for the smoked al pastor; the meat had a nice smoke flavor to it but again, on the sweeter side. There were a variety of sauces on the table so I added a “hot” sauce to both the al pastor and beef cheek. I wish both had more acidity to them: a lime, a slaw, a sauce, something to cut the sweetness. I find the sweeter it is, the more rich it feels to me so it’s hard to finish even if it’s absolutely delicious.
Overall – 4
If you’re looking for your traditional street tacos, these are a bit different in an elevated type of way. There is no right or wrong way to do tacos people. Let me tell you Tacos made by well known Chef’s, B O N U S. I definitely left with favorite from each and I forgot to mention, the drinks! Who would say no to margaritas? Have you ever had tequila, lychee and lime? It was a great combination and I just realized I sound so asian going for the lychee margarita. They’re going to continue doing different renditions of taco Tuesdays so I am interested to see what else they will come up with. Try this place out for yourselves babe. Possibly next Tuesday and if so, invite me! Remember, Eat Rich or die Tryin.